If Shylock were to live today, it would be a life king size in his trade, given what the digital ecosystem has on offer, and how so easily it can be manipulated. Even beyond the nature of returns it generates, with little or no chance of spoiling your reputation most of the times and very rarely getting caught by the harsh clutches of law. Shylocks description of greedy, jealous and vengeful would not look as inhuman as the digital practitioners of his trade today. The so to say metaphorical pound of flesh, in the digital world is taking real lives.
The issue in question are the loan apps. These apps have been wreaking havoc on the victims as no moneylender would have, ever in human history. In August in Bhopal, a father poisoned his two sons and then he and his wife took their lives by hanging themselves. Destiny could not have been more cruel. The person in question was trapped in a cycle of debt from loan apps. Recovery agents have been tormenting him for months. Close in its heels, a recent headline about a victim of a loan app reads; harassed for 3 months, Bengaluru lecturer pays Rs. 5.69 lakhs for Rs. 56,500 loan. The second loan was credited even without him asking for it.
The message that tipped the Bhopal victim over the edge was; “Tell him to repay the loan; otherwise, today I will *strip him naked and upload it on the social media.” The Bengaluru victim was receiving “harassing calls” daily. He had no other but to pay the astronomical amount. “They said they would morph my image into explicit photographs and videos and send it to my contacts.” He was forced to borrow money from friends and acquaintances. He received calls from seven numbers in different countries. Two of his friends has been received morphed videos. Even a case with the cyber-crime police has not stopped calls. Even blocking numbers have not helped.
These two stories as not unique. Loans apps spectre of terror, harassment, humiliation and embarrassment has become the order of the day. Hugely vulgar and abusive language in their lingua franca. The communication revolution, VoIP to multimedia social media has turned out to be a boon for them. Added to that physical presence is not required, but the damage that can be impacted is humungous. Many a times people have lost their jobs because of manipulated explicit photographs being circulated. Some of Apps in question have been Digital Bank, Money Pocket and KreditBee. The investigative agencies have still to pull up the socks, it is way different from what they have handled earlier by way of moneylending cheats and petty financial frauds. Loans apps have the potential, as it stands today, to rip apart the poorer and the needy sections of society.
CYBER CRIME HAS ENDLESS VARIANTS AND EACH HAS TO BE HANDLED DIFFERENTLY AND EFFECTIVELY.
Have a nice evening.